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Our newsletter highlighting the latest highly reviewed recordings available at ClassicsOnline.

Sunday, August 26, 2012
HANDEL, G.F.: Alceste (Curnyn)

HANDEL, G.F.: Alceste (Curnyn)
Chandos: CHAN0788
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Gramophone Choice, August 2012

(Excerpt)

"The 12-strong chorus sings with youthful freshness and the three soloists are ideally chosen. Andrew-Foster Williams is incisive without bluster in Charon's balefully cheerful 'Ye fleeting shades.' Benjamin Hulett is both mellifluous and athletic in his three arias, while Lucy Crowe displays her nimble coloratura technique in the frolicking 'Come fancy', and brings a limpid purity of line to 'Gentle Morpheus'. First-rate Chandos sound and presentation with a stimulating essay by David Vickers, complete an hour of hedonistic Hendelian delight."

© 2012 Gramophone
Read complete review on Gramophone
 
Piano Recital: Fialkowska, Janina - CHOPIN, F. (Chopin Recital 2)

Piano Recital: Fialkowska, Janina - CHOPIN, F. (Chopin Recital 2)
ATMA Classique: ACD22666
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Gramophone Choice, August 2012

(Excerpt)

For her second Chopin album, Janina Fialkowska once again offers a carefully chosen miscellany rather than a more conventional chronology. And, to an even greater extent than before, her performances blaze and challenge with a potent and highly individual sense of drama. Her curtain-raiser, the E-flat minor Polonaise, at once gives the lie to quaint notions of Chopin as a salon figure. Bold and portentous, it is almost as if the Grim Reaper himself had spoken, with parameters stretched far beyond conventional wisdom, a far cry indeed from, say, Pollini's daunting austerity.

© 2012 Gramophone
Read complete review on Gramophone
 
Piano Recital: Barnatan, Inon - RAVEL, M. / DEBUSSY, C. / ADES, T. / STEVENSON, R. (Darknesse Visible)

Piano Recital: Barnatan, Inon - RAVEL, M. / DEBUSSY, C. / ADES, T. / STEVENSON, R. (Darknesse Visible)
Avie Records: AV2256
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-- By Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

Inon Barnatan's Excellent Avie Debut

(Excerpt)

9/9 Artistic and Sound Quality

The young Israeli-born, New York-based pianist Inon Barnatan's debut disc for Avie may well be turn out to be one of 2012's top solo-piano releases. It opens with a highly distinctive interpretation of Ravel's oft-recorded Gaspard de la nuit. You can take dictation from Barnatan's slightly cool yet translucently clear shaping of Ondine, while Le Gibet's rock-steady gait and carefully contoured textures (the consistency of the tolling repeated B-flats in relationship to their surrounding soft chords) justifies Barnatan's slowish basic tempo. Unlike the demonic drive and virtuosic panache that Argerich, Pogorelich, and François bring to Scarbo, Barnatan's relative understatement holds interest by virtue of his refinement of articulation and unusual clarity over the murkier low-register writing.
 

MENDELSSOHN, Felix: String Quartet No. 6 / 4 Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 81 / MENDELSSOHN, Fanny: String Quartet (Merel Quartet)

MENDELSSOHN, Felix: String Quartet No. 6 / 4 Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 81 / MENDELSSOHN, Fanny: String Quartet (Merel Quartet)
Genuin: GEN11204
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-- By Cathy Fuller, WGBH.org

Merel Quartet Plays Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn

The cover of the new recording by the excellent, Zurich-based Merel Quartet features a loving vision of Lucerne done in watercolors. The artist is composer Felix Mendelssohn, who had traveled there to regain his strength and peace of mind after the death of his sister, Fanny. The siblings were close in a deep, almost unfathomable way. Both of them were unnaturally talented. Both were nurtured in a cultivated environment. Fanny gave Felix invaluable advice. They trusted each other profoundly.

Felix was devastated at the loss of his sister. She died of complications from a stroke, suffered while rehearsing one of her brother's oratorios. Felix died six months later of the same cause.

This new recording features the String Quartet in F minor by Mendelssohn, begun as a sketch while in Switzerland. Also featured is Fanny's String Quartet in E-flat, played with love, warmth and mastery.

This is a stunning recording, brimming with life and longing, and sustained by an intelligent sense of line. The quartet's devotion to bringing across each of the two quartets as complete, unfolding constructions makes the experience all the more poignant. Gorgeous.

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